Press Release

Angel Ysaguirre Named New Executive Director of the Illinois Humanities Council

CHICAGO, IL- January 8, 2014— The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) has appointed Angel Ysaguirre as its new executive director. He comes to the IHC from the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), where he served as Deputy Commissioner. He will officially begin his duties February 1.

Ysaguirre will be the 5th executive director of the IHC and will succeed Kristina A. Valaitis, who has served as Executive Director since 1993.

As Deputy Commissioner for DCASE, Ysaguirre participated in the creation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago Cultural Plan, a framework to guide the city’s future cultural and economic growth. He worked with the Mayor’s Office, DCASE Commissioner Michelle Boone and a team of Directors to create a new Arts Programming Division within DCASE to enact parts of the Cultural Plan and establish the department’s strategy.

“We are impressed with Angel‘s work at the City, under Commissioner Boone’s leadership, to re-imagine and energize Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events,” said Deborah Epstein, IHC’s Board Chair.  “We look forward to Angel bringing that same energy and passion for translating ideas into action, especially as we celebrate our 40th anniversary and look ahead to the next 40 years.”  

Since 1973-74, the IHC has grown to be a grant maker and a producer of free programs and initiatives that reach over 600,000 people yearly. New and upcoming projects include a humanities radio series with WSIU in southern Illinois, The Public Square’s media literacy project, Media Matters, the debut of the Smithsonian’s latest traveling exhibit, Hometown Teams, and a Chicago-based program series looking at the intersection between business and the humanities.      

“The Council plays an important role in Chicago and the State, using the humanities to celebrate, explore and examine our society and culture,” commented DCASE Commissioner Michelle Boone. “Angel will apply the same innovation, drive and progressive thinking at the Council that he brought to his work with the City and the residents of Chicago.”

Along with his time at DCASE, Angel Ysaguirre brings over 17 years of experience in philanthropy and arts and humanities, including at the IHC.  He served as the IHC’s first Director of Programs, ushering in programs like The Odyssey Project and the series, Brown v Board 50 Years Later: Conversations on Race, Integration, and the Courts, that made the humanities accessible to a wider audience. His rich philanthropic experience includes serving as Program Officer with the McCormick Tribune Foundation, where he managed a portfolio that covered arts and arts education. He continued his philanthropic work as Director of Global Community Investing, Global Corporate Citizenship for The Boeing Company, where he managed the company’s grant making strategy domestically and internationally.

“My career has been characterized by taking things to the next level, and I am excited to bring my familiarity with the IHC and experience to help build on its strengths and soar to new heights,” said Ysaguirre. “I will work to ensure our programs continue the IHC’s mission of helping people experience life more deeply through critical reflection about issues that matter, and to contribute to civic life by engaging with others on those reflections.”

The fortuitous convergence of new leadership and the IHC’s 40th year celebration offers Ysaguirre, IHC staff and board, an ideal moment to look to the future and design the next generation of strategic grant making and programming. Deborah Epstein reinforces this thought by noting, “IHC is poised for a new level of impact and Angel is just the person to take us there”.

About the Illinois Humanities Council 

The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) is a philanthropic and educational organization dedicated to making the humanities a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities in Illinois, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. This year  marks 40 years of developing or funding educational activities and programs throughout the state, including lectures, seminars, performances, exhibitions, films, library discussions, and written materials – all free and open to the public. Organized as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1973, the IHC is now a private nonprofit (501 [c] 3) supported by state, federal, and private funds.

Media Contact:
Carlos Velázquez
(312) 422-5587